City’s Regeneron supply will run out Friday

Odessa’s supply of Regeneron is expected to run out by the end of the week, and local health officials on Thursday acknowledged they don’t know when additional shipments will arrive.

The popular Regeneron treatment, which boosts the immune system’s ability to fight COVID-19 and helps prevent people from being hospitalized, has proven very successful, Odessa Fire Rescue Assistant Chief Rodd Huber said during a Thursday Zoom news conference with local health officials.

The problem is demand for Regeneron has outpaced the ability to supply communities with it, Huber said. Odessa has been treating 50-60 people per day.

“We’re very concerned, like a lot of cities,” Huber said. “We’re not sure when we’ll get our next shipment.”

Odessa this week received a total of 132 doses of Regeneron donated from neighboring communities in order to keep the Odessa Regeneron infusion center open through the week, Huber said.

ORMC Chief of Staff Dr. Rohith Saravanan said the 2-dose Regeneron treatment has significantly decreased local hospitalization rates, but he urged more people to get vaccinated also.

“There’s a big difference in cost,” Saravanan said. “A two-dose cocktail of Regeneron costs about $1,250; a COVID vaccine, which prevents COVID only costs $20 and we have an excessive supply of vaccine.”

Medical Center Hospital President and CEO Russell Tippin on Thursday reported a total of 88 COVID patients at MCH, with three in pediatrics.

Twenty-eight of those patients were in critical care, and 27 of those were on ventilators. Of the 28 patients in critical care, 24 were unvaccinated. Of the 60 patients not in critical care, 46 were unvaccinated, 11 vaccinated and 3 were unknown.

Patients ages ranged from 2 months old to 92 years old, Tippin said.

Odessa Regional Medical Center CEO Stacey Brown said there were a total of 23 COVID patients at ORMC on Thursday, with 17 patients in critical care and 8 on ventilators.

Local officials expressed hope that the FDA on Friday will approve the Pfizer booster. If approved, the booster could be made available to the general public as early as Sept. 20, Saravanan said.

Tippin and Brown on Thursday expressed their gratitude to the Odessa City Council, which unanimously voted this week to distribute American Rescue Plan Act funds to both hospitals.

Council approved $3 million for MCH and $1 million to ORMC.

The city funding is basically a paper transaction, because both hospitals have technically already spent the money to hire more nurses and staff to help care for the additional patient loads due to COVID, Tippin and Brown said.

MCH and ORMC must provide proof that the funds were spent on staffing by a Dec. 31 deadline, which will allow the city to be reimbursed those funds by the federal government.

Tippin and Brown said 2 months ago they made similar funding requests to Ector County, which also received American Rescue Plan Act funds. County commissioners have so far ignored the requests and have not discussed what they plan to do with their pot of money.

MCH requested $4.2 from the county; ORMC $2.6 million.

“We’ve had no response yet from the county,” Brown said.